One of the main reasons that games are fun are because we play them with friends. We get to interact with others in a sometimes silly, usually fantastical way. Whether helping our friends take down a big monster or competing with them to be the best hero around, we laugh, jest, celebrate (and sometimes sulk) with our peers to have a good time.
One way that we can play together with existing friends, or make new friends, is through guilds. Guilds are groups of players in MMOs who work together for advancement and achievements. I’m taking a group psychotherapy class this semester, so you might hear a lot about groups from me in the future, but guilds are something that I have been thinking about for a while now.
There are many different kinds of guilds, but the main two I’d like to focus on are casual guilds and progression guilds. Casual guilds are just that; guilds who take it easy and do what they can, when they can. They usually focus on helping other members level up, or complete specific achievements. Progression guilds, on the other hand, want to be the best of the best. They want a lot of high level, well-geared, competent players in order to beat all the arena competitors, beat all the dungeons and raids quickly, and score the awesome loot. Many of them require you to apply to join, and if you don’t have the right kind of gear or if you don’t deal enough damage, you don’t make the cut.
My WoW guild started off as a casual guild, and is now growing and becoming something different. Not quite a progression guild yet, but definitely headed in that direction.
I joined through a friend of mine years ago, and didn’t know anyone else at first. I can be kind of shy, but I made a lot of friends, right off the bat. Everyone was super nice, and very helpful. A few members even became friends of mine outside of the game. I learned a lot about how to play my favorite classes, and general stuff about the game. It was a small, tight knit guild. Anyone could try to run dungeons and raids as long as the game’s mechanics would let them in. If we died all night, we did it together.
The guild started getting bigger, and in the course of that happening, it became more competitive. When we barely had enough people on a Friday night to start a 10 man raid, anyone could go. Then we started getting so big that some people would have to sit out each week. It was handled fairly though. Those who sat out were chosen randomly, and were guaranteed a spot the next week.
More players with progression style attitudes also started joining. Some of them were nice….some of them were not. Eventually we had enough people to actually run a 25 man raid! That was awesome, and something we had never dreamed of a few years ago. Only it was obvious that we didn’t have quite the damage or skill to do very well. When it came to the point that some people had to sit out because there were too many….instead of randomly having people sit out, there was minimum damage level to join the raid.
I and a close friend were left out.
It really sucked. My Friday nights were blocked off for raiding. I would turn down plans with friends to play, knowing that I would be social during raid time, and that I could always go out the next night. Not being included in the raid hurt. A lot. My friend and I complained to each other a bit and then I found something else to do.
It stuck with me for a while. I felt like I was no longer part of the group. That I wasn’t cool enough. That I wasn’t good enough for my friends (when in actuality, many of them weren’t my friends).
I had therapy the day of the next raid. And here’s the worst part. It was still bothering me, and I didn’t feel like I could bring it up to my therapist. Now, he never made me feel this way, so I guess it was mostly my own issues. The point is, I still felt uncomfortable saying what was really bothering me and causing me to feel so down and inadequate. Would he understand that these are my friends and that I felt just as left out as if they were friends from school or work? Or would he think that it was silly to let an online group of people make me feel this way? I guess I won’t really know.
I want to be the kind of therapist that people can come to and not worry about wondering if I would understand this kind of situation. That they know they could talk about guild stuff, or Facebook stuff, or Twitter stuff, and that I would get it and be supportive.
I feel as though we need more therapists who can let their clients be them. Many times it’s by not fault of their own that clients think they won’t understand. I’m so judged everywhere else about being a gamer, that I guess I just assumed it was weird for me (as an adult) to talk to him about video games. Maybe it’s time for us as therapists to think of ways to be more explicit about what can be said.
That’s my two cents.
To go back to my guild drama: I was left out of the raid again the second week, and didn’t even bother logging in the next week. The next time I logged in, I had an invite for raid night. My friend had said something to the guild leader and they started doing it the old way with people randomly sitting out. I felt a little better, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth.
I got my friends back, I learned an important lesson about the kind of therapist I want to be, I got to beat up a big ugly Sha, and I got some sweet loot.
What more could I ask for?